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Market Garden Memorial; Eindhoven, September 17, 2016

The Annual Memorial to Market Garden; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

Transport aircraft from various European and American countries would participate to commemorate Operation Market Garden on September 17. The aircraft would support parachute droppings over the Ginkelse Heide near Ede and Arnhem. Exactly 72 years ago, this operation took place to liberate the Netherlands.

In the Netherlands, the military operation Market Garden is annually commemorated. During this major operation in the Second World War the bridges over the main rivers in the Netherlands were captured. The purpose of this operation was to quickly capture the Netherlands and Germany in order to quickly end the war. Operation Market Garden was at the end of the Second World War an Allied offensive in September 1944. It was the largest operation on Dutch territory during the Second World War. It was for the Allies and the Netherlands largely a failure, because the final bridge at Arnhem could not be taken. Partly because of the failure the western part of the Netherlands was not liberated and faced with famine. Market Garden consisted of a massive airborne operation (Market) and a ground offensive from Belgium (Garden). British, Polish and American airborne troops would occupy the major bridges across the Dutch rivers, and ground forces could penetrate quickly into the IJsselmeer via these bridges. The German troops in the west of the Netherlands were taken into the bar and there was at the time the option to proceed to the Ruhr Area. The Ruhr Area is the industrial heart of Germany and was therefore of strategic importance. Also the dreaded West Wall between France and Germany was bypassed with this operation.

Almost 750 Red Berets from eight different countries went in the footsteps of their predecessors on Saturday, September 17. Globally the airborne troops are recognized by their characteristic red Barrett. On the same date in 1944, exactly 72 years ago, the large airborne operation Market Garden began with the goal to recapture the Netherlands from the Germans and to advance to the Ruhr. During this operation, more than 2,000 paratroopers landed at the Ginkelse Heide near Ede. These soldiers were from Great Britain and Poland. The units had the task to secure the landing zone and to conquer the bridge over the Rhine in Arnhem. The bridge was crucial for the further passage of the army to the northern part of the Netherlands and Germany.

Annually this largest airborne operation in history is repeated at especially the Ginkelse Heide near Ede and Arnhem. During the commemoration, soldiers are dropped on different days at different locations (often in Gelderland). During the preparations droppings took place at Deelen Air Base on Wednesday, September 14, Thursday, September 15 and Friday, September16. All droppings at Deelen took place between 15:00 and 16:00. In the village of Houtdorperveld were droppings on Wednesday, September 14, and Friday, September 16 between 10:00 and 14:00. The Ginkelse Heide in Ede was the location where the mass dropping would take place for the general public. At this location a practice jump was first made on Thursday, September 15 between 10:00 and 14:00. The big mass dropping would take place on Saturday September 17. The first dropping took place between 10:05 and 11:15 and the second dropping took place between 14:05 and 15:15.

During this year’s commemorations different aircraft were again used to transport the paratroopers to their dropzone. The aircraft would fly daily in a mass takeoff from Eindhoven in order to not disturb the civilian traffic around the airport. The transport aircraft would take off at Eindhoven every time about 30 minutes before dropping. The Royal Netherlands Air Force facilitates the dropping with two C-130H Hercules transport aircraft of the no 336 Squadron. The German Air Force also flies in the recent years along during this commemoration and this year they participated with two C-160 Transall transport aircraft. The Polish Air Force flew along with a single CASA C-295M. This plane is much smaller than the Hercules aircraft which have been deployed. The Belgians also flew along with a C-130 Hercules which came from Brussels-Melsbroek. The Royal Air Force would participate with a C-130 Hercules during the program. Initially it was planned that the Americans and Canadians both would fly with a C-17 Globemaster III during the droppings. However, the participation of the Canadians was withdrawn by operational needs elsewhere. The Americans had at the last moment decided to convert the participation of the C-17 in a C-130 Hercules from Ramstein Air Base in Germany. In addition to the modern military transport aircraft also a C-47 Dakota would fly along during the memorial.

In addition to the aircraft which flew along during dropping, there were parachutists from around the world present at Eindhoven. The droppings of the paratroopers and the subsequent march would be led by the Dutch soldiers from the 11 Air Assault Brigade from Schaarsbergen. Also units from Great-Britain, the United States, Canada and Germany would take place during the memorial. In preparation for the commemoration march which would take place on Saturday at the Ginkelse Heide, the soldiers made a number of jumps over Ginkelse Heide and Houtdorperveld on Wednesday. This practice jumps were performed during the international exercise Falcon Leap. This exercise was led by the no 336 Squadron at Eindhoven Air Base. On Wednesday, September 14, there were about 500 paratroopers dropped over Houtdorperveld between 10.00 and 14.00 hours. The official dropping was here performed on September 14, in front of the spectators. The special feature of Houtdorperveld is that this drop zone was also used for the shooting of the film 'A bridge too far' in the 70s. For the participating soldiers this location gave thereby an extra dimension to the dropping. The dropping which was scheduled on Saturday morning at the Ginkelse Heide was unfortunately canceled in the drop zone due to the dense fog. The aircraft had taken off from Eindhoven, but came back with the paratroopers still onboard. In the afternoon the fog cleared and the dropping took place according to the plan. After the landing of the dropping, the commemoration of market garden in 2016 was finished.




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